How To Boost Your Memory With These Mind Hacks From Chester Santos

Chester Santos is the US memory champion with the shortcuts to take your memory from fuzzy and forgetful, to razor sharp and impressive. Having a good memory for names and facts marks you out as smart and reliable, and will help you fastrack new skills. So, read this article to discover Santos’s three-step process to remember more than you ever have before…

Google Isn’t In Your Head, Yet
You might ask, what’s the point of having a good memory when a Google search is a quickdraw of your smartphone away? For Chester Santos, memory training is an ancient practice that the Greeks used to be masters of, and reviving it will give you an unusual advantage. ‘You'll definitely find an edge if you’re able to recall important business-related facts and figures, if you can give presentations from memory using little or no notes, if you remember foreign language vocabulary easily, and recall people's names and other things about them.

‘Although you may not believe it, you already have an amazing memory, and with the following tips I can help you unlock your full memory potential.’

‘The first step is to visualise what you’re trying to remember by turning it into a simple series of images’

It’s As Easy As One, Two, Three
The ‘Santos method’ uses three steps:

1 ‘The first step is to visualise what you’re trying to remember. Turn it into a simple image or series of memorable images.’

2 ‘Once this is in your head, try to involve additional senses. The more senses involved, the more of your brain you'll be using and the more connections in your mind to the information you'll be building, so it will be much easier to remember.’

3 ‘Next, use your creativity and imagination to make what you are seeing and experiencing in your mind crazy and unusual. This is important so that you can take advantage of the psychological aspect of your memory – images that have an impact on us psychologically and that graphically hold our attention are much easier to remember.’

Practice Makes Perfect Recall
Rather than waiting for a real test of memory to use this method, try a dry run, using it to memorise a random sequence of words. ‘Let's put the three principles that I just described above into practice and use them to commit to memory the following random list of words: monkey, iron, rope, kite, house, paper, shoe, worm, envelope, pencil, river, rock, tree, cheese, euro. Try and see it happening to the best of your ability almost like a cartoon or movie playing in your head.’

Not sure how to go about that? Santos recommends the following: ‘Firstly, picture a monkey. This monkey is dancing around making noises. The monkey picks up an iron. The iron starts to fall, but a rope attaches itself to it. You look up the rope and see the other end attached to a kite. The kite smashes into a house. You notice that the house is covered in paper.’

‘A shoe appears out of nowhere and starts to walk on the paper. The shoe smells bad, so you look inside to find a worm crawling around. The worm jumps into an envelope. A pencil starts to write on the envelope. That pencil now jumps into a river with a huge splash. You notice that the river is crashing into a giant rock. The rock flies out of the river and crashes into a tree. This tree is growing cheese! A euro now flies out of each piece of cheese.’

Yes, it does sound a bit crackers (sorry, Ed) but stick with it and read through the story once more while visualising everything in it, before going through the story in your head and remembering each major object. ‘You’ll be amazed at how easy it is,’ says Santos.

‘You’ve just learned the "story method", and it's one of many powerful techniques for improving your ability to remember things. It's important to note that the images in the story can represent much more than random words. The images could, for instance, remind you of key points to a speech or presentation.’

Never Forget A Name Again
It’s surprising the number of otherwise smart, sociable people who are absolutely terrible at remembering names. What isn’t surprising is how foolish they look when faced with the challenge of introducing two acquaintances to each other, who’s names escape them – awkward!

Fortunately, the story method can also be used to save your face in business networking scenarios. ‘So, if you meet a woman named Jane with beautiful hair, you might imagine that her hair is made of chains that are clacking together making a loud noise. The next time you see Jane and notice her hair, the imagery of the chains will come back to you and chain might effectively remind you of Jane. If you meet a man named Mike with large eyes, you might imagine a microphone or mic popping out of each of his eyes.’

Although this might seem a bit strange, going through this exercise when trying to commit a person's name to memory is going to help you recall the name later.

‘Review important information just before you go to sleep and you'll wake up knowing it much better’

Sleep On It For A Powerful Memory
There are downsides to a busy mind’s habit of chewing over work and other important information before bedtime, but you can turn it to your advantage by using it to boost your memory. ‘If you review important information just before you go to sleep. You'll wake up the next morning knowing the information much better than you did the day before,’ says Santos.

WHAT NEXT? Watch Chester Santos’s Tedx Talk on memory training.

Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations.

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